Extending over 14 nurtured hectares, the Durban Botanic Gardens contains the city of Durban’s largest collection of lush exotic plants and is, in fact, Africa’s oldest surviving botanic garden. Besides its colourful and aromatic inhabitants, the Durban Botanic Gardens play an important part in conservation, research, biodiversity and green innovation.
The main plant collection at the Durban is made up of orchids, bromeliads and palms together with over 80 heritage trees, some of which are more than 100 years old. The Gardens are also home to some of the world’s rarest collection of cycads, including a generous assortment of types from South and Central African, Asian, South American and Australasian. Housing over 860 palms belonging to 130 species, it also boasts an arboretum filled to the brim with an impressive collection of exotic trees including Pepper-bark medicinal and fragrant frangipani and clove. There is plenty in the Gardens to see, smell or simply admire, including a Tea Room that serves refreshments.
The Durban Botanical Gardens is located at St. Thomas’s Road in the area known as the Berea. There is a car park nearby in Sydenham Road, and Gardens are also accessible by buses and taxis in the centre of town.
Originally developed in 1849 by Dr Charles Johnson as a botanic base for the trial of crops such as tea, coffee, pineapples and sugarcane, the Gardens have witnessed several owners throughout the years. It includes curator Ernest Thorp who, between the years 1950 and 1975, was the driving force for the Garden’s growth.